It's with a heavy heart to report that the irreplaceable Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away today. Like you, I'm in shock, denial, and am, the worst, devastated. Hollywood has lost another titan too early -- one of the greatest the industry will ever have.
In 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival, I got to interview him, and I would like to share that singular experience with you, dear reader:
Back in 2010, I ran a popular independently-owned movie website, GordonandtheWhale.com (now defunct), and talked a lot about people I would love to interview and whether or not I could keep my composure around them if that opportunity came to fruition. Philip Seymour Hoffman was always my number one — he’s been my Hollywood Superhero ever since I first saw him shake up the screen in the so-fun-to-love movie, Twister, and knew I wouldn't be able to hide my excitement. Magnolia (which is now the most important film of my life and one of the most significant films of the 20th century), Hard Eight, Punch-Drunk Love, The Master, Boogie Nights, The Savages, Capote, Happiness, and Almost Famous are a handful of my favorite films, and mostly because of Hoffman's involvement.
My friends and colleagues know I've adored this man for quite some time. I thought interviewing him would never happen because our website kept getting rejected to attend the big film festivals as press where his films played at — Sundance, Cannes, TIFF. Finally, we got accepted into Sundance 2010. Things were looking up. Then the lineup for the festival was announced, which included Hoffman's writing-directing feature film debut, Jack Goes Boating. I started getting a slew of emails about doing interviews with talent for the films that were coming to the festival. Finally, an email for Hoffman's came through. Excitement immediately followed by panic boomed through my body. I may have a chance to meet Hoffman and can't mess this up. After calming down, I replied that I would like to interview Mr. Hoffman on behalf of our site. I know it was a shot in the dark because we were little fish up against some big sharks — Variety, Hollywood Reporter, People Magazine, E! Entertainment, etc. Surely I wouldn't get to interview Hoffman, one of the most in-demand actors at the time, right?
Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m at Sundance. As I walked out of a movie screening, I looked at my phone and saw a zillion missed calls from an unknown number. I called it back.
“Hello, is this Chase?”
“This is Chase.”
“I'm representing Jack Goes Boating. We have an open slot for Philip. Have you seen the film yet?”
“I did! Yes.”
“Can you be at the MySpace Cafe in 20 minutes? We can give you 10 minutes with him.”
“Yes! I’ll be there 20 or less.”
I hightailed it to the MySpace Cafe, excitement and either pizza or makeshift vomit bouncing in my chubby tummy.
We did the interview -- I survived without passing out. It is one of the greatest and most treasured moments of my life. We filmed the interview, and in the beginning, you can see how timid and nervous I am, and Hoffman endearingly heckling me for it. I kept telling myself to be courageous, but couldn’t shake the anxiety when it was my turn to speak. He held the flow of the interview calm, cool, and relaxed, just like his real-life demeanor. Hoffman was the one person on Earth I wanted to spend time with and discuss his craft, and I got to do that. He is a part of my life’s timeline, and that is amazing. I will never forget this day.
Below is that interview, along with the uncut(e) version where you can see the beginning, where I look like I'm going to pass out. This is treasure.
What a guy. See you on the other side, amigo. You will be dearly missed. R.I.P. (Return If Possible).